DACA Lives

When this country started hearing a decade ago about Dreamers — people who came to the United States as small children without legal permission — many of them were in their teens or early 20s. These Dreamers are now full adults, with careers and families, and many have spent years anxiously wondering whether they would be thrown out of the only country they’ve really known.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, which barred President Trump from deporting the Dreamers anytime soon, came as a tremendous relief to them.
“It feels amazing,” Vanessa Pumar, 31, an immigration lawyer who came from Venezuela at age 11, said. “I have been holding my breath. It feels like I can finally breathe.”
Marisol Montejano, who’s 36 and received a math degree this week from a California university, used the same word: “I feel like I could breathe.” Montejano planned to tell her two children that “it’s going to be OK.”
Joana Cabrera, who is 24 and came from the Philippines at age 9, said, “I’m actually still shaking.” Cabrera added, “I’m unbelievably happy, because I was expecting the worst.”
The decision was the second this week in which at least one conservative justice — Chief Justice John Roberts, in this case — joined the court’s four liberal members to issue a left-leaning ruling. Immigration is proving to be one of the issues (along with L.G.B.T.Q. rights) on which the court is not reliably conservative. Last year, a majority effectively blocked the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census.
Yesterday’s decision was a narrow one, holding that the administration did not follow the proper procedures for terminating President Barack Obama’s policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, of allowing Dreamers to stay. Trump quickly suggested that he still planned to end the policy.
But, as The Times’s Miriam Jordan told us, “There’s nothing the Trump administration could do fast enough to get rid of the program before the election.”
Many Republicans may be quite happy about that, anyway. “Polls show extraordinarily broad support for giving legal status to the Dreamers,” said Julie Davis, a Times editor who’s written a book about Trump’s immigration policy with her colleague Michael Shear, “and being on the wrong side of that issue is the last place Republicans want to be five months before an election.”
The dissent: Justice Clarence Thomas argued that Trump had the power to end DACA and the majority of justices were trying “to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision.”
Big impact: Roberto G. Gonzales, a Harvard professor who has been studying DACA since it went into effect in 2012, calls it “the most successful immigration policy in recent decades.”
Gonzales explains: “Within a year, DACA beneficiaries were already taking giant steps. They found new jobs. They increased their earnings. They acquired driver’s licenses. And they began to build credit through opening bank accounts and obtaining credit cards.”
Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller

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